Communicating your needs in a relationships

Unmet needs have big impact on the health of relationships. One of the biggest mistakes couples make is having unrealistic expectations of each other. It is a fantasy to expect that your partner will know what you need and therefore fulfil your needs. According to my co-host on SABC 3’s reality series “”Saving our Marriage”, Paul Nyamuda, many couples struggle to communicate their needs.
Paul gives the following reasons: “Concern around how their spouse will perceive the validity of their needs i.e. “She might think I am being unreasonable”. Another common reason for difficulty in articulating needs is believing that articulating one’s needs equates to being selfish and that’s simply not true.”
William F. Harley, Jr., in His Needs Her Needs, lists 10 common needs prevalent in marriage: affection, sexual fulfilment, intimate conversation, recreational companionship, honesty and openness, physical attractiveness, financial support, domestic support, family commitment, and admiration.
Because you love your partner and don’t want them to look for these needs to be met elsewhere, you want to communicate needs openly and honestly. You also want to work towards accepting and understanding your partner’s needs. Remember that one of the most common causes of affairs is perceived scarcity of resources in one’s marriage. Your marriage should be a safe place where your spouse’s needs are satisfied fully. When this is the climate of your marriage the result is that your spouse becomes the best version of themselves.

How can I communicate my needs to my spouse?

Paul has outlined a couple of needs and requisite scripts for you to use below.

Need 1:
I have a strong need to know that I am loved in my marriage.

“When you give me a back rub whilst watching TV, I feel loved.”
“When you offer to take the kids to school so that I can lie in bed longer, I feel loved.”
“When you say to me passionately “I love you so much!”, I feel loved.”

Need 2:
I have a strong need to feel admired in my marriage.

“When you tell your friends and parents in detail about my latest accomplishments, I feel admired.”
“When you ask for my opinion on difficult matters, I feel admired.”
“When you take time to read my articles and quote me, I feel admired.”
“When you come, and watch me at my musical recitals, I feel admired.”
“When you talk about me in your presentations, I feel admired.”


Do this quick questionnaire to understand your love language and ask your partner to do the same. Filling your partner’s love tank is a valuable investment in the well-being of your relationship.

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